Hummingbirds

DEADHEADING-WHY IT IS SO IMPORTANT

What is Deadheading?

Deadheading is a gardening term used for the removal of faded or dead flowers from plants (not to be confused at all with the Grateful Dead groupies). Flowers in the ground and in containers will continue to bloom throughout the growing season if they are regularly deadheaded. Deadheading is usually done to maintain a plant’s appearance and to improve its overall performance. It is important to keep up with in the garden or with your containers throughout the growing season. By removing spent blooms, the plant will send energy to produce more blooms rather than towards developing a seed. The second bloom will last longer than the first…then deadhead again and you may be rewarded with even more blossoms.

Why deadheading is Important

Although deadheading can be a lot of work, it has immeasurable benefits. Gutter Gardens have advantages because you can stand up and garden…including trimming off the spent blooms. This is true for all raised bed gardens…but being able to stand on your porch, deck or balcony every morning and manicure your flowers (or ‘puttering’ as I call it) is a truly rewarding, relaxing activity.

How to Deadhead

Dead-heading is very simple. As the petals fall and the blooms fade, pinch or cut off the flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of full, healthy leaves. Remove all the dead flowers on the plant as well as yellowing leaves.

Follow stem of a spent bloom and remove close to where it attaches to the first set of leaves or the rest of the plant.

Benefits of Deadheading

If you get into the habit of deadheading early and often,, your dead-heading task will be much easier. Beginearly, around late spring, while there are only a few plants with faded flowers. Few things are as rewarding as tending beautiful flowers. You may even be blessed to attract hummingbirds to your deck or balcony when they see the magnificent display you have given them!  The regular practice of dead-heading throughout the season will help prolong your enjoyment

ATTRACTING HUMMINGBIRDS TO YOUR DECK OR BALCONY

Why Attract Hummingbirds?  

Hummingbirds are really fun to watch and they are important to the environment. Attracting hummingbirds and birds in general can help maintain the amount of bugs in your area and can help to spread seeds around the neighborhood as they travel from plants to trees. It is very rewarding to find ways to attract birds to your deck or balcony planters. One of my favorites is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. (see diagram from Cornell University Dept. of Ornithology for their range)

Range of the Ruby Throated Hummingbird.

Growing colorful annuals in your planters is one surefire way to bring small nectar loving birds…mainly hummingbirds to watch close up. The color red is often an attractant. Color is the keyword to remember along with deep throat floral displays.

Hummingbirds seeking nectar from your flowers will also capture many insects including spiders, tiny flying insects, and those insects that feed on your flowers, all which provide a great source of dietary protein for the bird.  And, occasionally hummingbirds will consume mosquitos.

Attracting Hummingbirds in Sun or Shade

A sunny spot on your deck or balcony can attract lots of hummingbirds and butterflies with the help of colorful annuals such as flowing Petunias, Salvias, Geraniums, Verbena, Snapdragons, Lantana and Calibrachoa  can be combined to create a miniature garden in just one planter box.

Shaded areas can also provide the bright colors that attract hummingbirds. While comparatively fewer shade-loving plants produce bright enough flowers to act as a beacon for hummingbirds, impatiens and begonias are an exception, with flowers that bloom in vibrant oranges, reds and bright pinks. 

There are dozens of Begonias, Fuchsias, several varieties of Impatiens, Lobelia, Wishbone Flower, Browallia and Nasturtium are also among classic planters and container summer plants. If it is colorful and or has a fragrance, hummingbirds (and butterflies) will find it.  Even a small number of plants can make a big impact in a colorless, shady area.

Having a colorful planter on your balcony or porch is a wonderful way to invite hummingbirds to visit. Put one up this season and enjoy the view!

 

Try a Window-Box to Add Color to your Home

Why Window Boxes?

Window boxes have been around for a long time and although they are hugely popular in Europe, they are gaining popularity in the United States. A window box adds color in the middle of an exterior wall by allowing home owners to plant flowers and vines in key locations on any side of the house. 

Window Box on fiber-cement board house.

Window Box on fiber-cement board house.

 

Coco Fiber lined planter that is a mess.

#1 Reason We Make Gutter Gardens!

Gutter Gardens™ has researched and experimented with various prototypes and found what we believe to be a smart solution for those inquiring about the possible use of window boxes. We use a deeper/wider-than-normal channel of aluminum rain gutter material that is securely attached below the window.

 

What types of surface is necessary for a window box?

Window box on brick house with motar sill

Window box on brick house

The sill…or bottom of an outdoor window can be made of brick, mortar, and various siding materials covering a wood frame.

Window box on bay window aluminum sided house.

Window box on bay window aluminum sided house.

Any of these surfaces is a good candidate for hanging a window box. When ordering, just select the appropriate screws  (tap-cons or stainless steel screws) available for the surface you have to work with.

Historically, window boxes have been made out of wood and over time, the material deteriorates and falls apart. Some  window boxes have a plastic or vinyl planting box inside which prolongs the life of a wooden window box…but since the planter box must have drainage for healthy plants, eventually all wood window boxes will fail.

 

What are the best Window Boxes?

Window box on shed in shade

Window box on shed in shade

Another popular window-box is made of wrought iron with an insert of coco-fiber (see above photo). This method begins well, but because it is so porous, this window box requires very frequent watering.  The fiber lining must be replaced every season….and, because the birds often help themselves to the material for nests, they generally begin to spill their contents around mid-to-end of July. Nothing uglier than a coco-fiber planter that is ignored!

There are some very attractive poly window boxes available on-line now-a-days. Some are treated and will last longer than others because they have been treated to delay the effects of sun UV rays…which will eventually cause the material to become brittle. These are generally 3 or 4 times more expensive than the Gutter Gardens™ Window Boxes  we offer (in 4 different colors)…which are made from recycled aluminum (and can be recycled somewhere down the line) and won’t last as long as a rain gutter planter.

8-Inch Wide Window Boxes Work Best

Because they are non-porous, Gutter Gardens™ require less watering and the filtered drainage holes guarantee healthy, gorgeous flowers! We suggest that you select the 8” wide Window box planters because the larger window boxes give your building a larger, more elegant presence, hold more flowers and need less watering than the 6” wide window-boxes. I, the owner and developer of Gutter Gardens™, LLC started out w/ the 6”wide window boxes for 3 years…but switched over to the 8” wide this season b/c I wanted more of a statement and less maintenance and the 8” require less watering. Both sizes worked well and looked great…but the overhang prevented any rain at all from reaching the plants. The 8-inch wide required less watering for this very busy gardener.

Be sure to order the appropriate hardware for drilling into concrete/mortar (tap-cons) or wood surfaces (stainless steel screws). Your purchase includes enough screws for the length of the planter you purchase.  However, additional hardware items can be purchased from our store and will be shipped with your order.